Thursday August 5, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Statue of Liberty
On this Day:
In 1884, the cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty was laid on Bedloe’s Island (NYC).
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor within New York City, in the United States. The copper statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
The statue is a figure of Libertas, a robed Roman liberty goddess. She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tabula ansata inscribed JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals), the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. A broken shackle and chain lie at her feet as she walks forward, commemorating the recent national abolition of slavery. After its dedication, the statue became an icon of freedom and of the United States, seen as a symbol of welcome to immigrants arriving by sea.
Bartholdi was inspired by a French law professor and politician, Édouard René de Laboulaye, who is said to have commented in 1865 that any monument raised to U.S. independence would properly be a joint project of the French and U.S. peoples. The Franco-Prussian War delayed progress until 1875, when Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the U.S. provide the site and build the pedestal. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions.
The torch-bearing arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and in Madison Square Park in Manhattan from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened by lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer, of the New York World, started a drive for donations to finish the project and attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was built in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The statue’s completion was marked by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, and is a major tourist attraction. Public access to the balcony around the torch has been barred since 1916.
A ceremony of dedication was held on the afternoon of October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event. On the morning of the dedication, a parade was held in New York City; estimates of the number of people who watched it ranged from several hundred thousand to a million. President Cleveland headed the procession, then stood in the reviewing stand to see bands and marchers from across America. General Stone was the grand marshal of the parade. The route began at Madison Square, once the venue for the arm, and proceeded to the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan by way of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, with a slight detour so the parade could pass in front of the World building on Park Row. As the parade passed the New York Stock Exchange, traders threw ticker tape from the windows, beginning the New York tradition of the ticker-tape parade.
A nautical parade began at 12:45 p.m., and President Cleveland embarked on a yacht that took him across the harbor to Bedloe’s Island for the dedication. De Lesseps made the first speech, on behalf of the French committee, followed by the chairman of the New York committee, Senator William M. Evarts. A French flag draped across the statue’s face was to be lowered to unveil the statue at the close of Evarts’s speech, but Bartholdi mistook a pause as the conclusion and let the flag fall prematurely. The ensuing cheers put an end to Evarts’s address. President Cleveland spoke next, stating that the statue’s “stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression until Liberty enlightens the world”. Bartholdi, observed near the dais, was called upon to speak, but he declined. Orator Chauncey M. Depew concluded the speechmaking with a lengthy address.
No members of the general public were permitted on the island during the ceremonies, which were reserved entirely for dignitaries. The only females granted access were Bartholdi’s wife and de Lesseps’s granddaughter; officials stated that they feared women might be injured in the crush of people. The restriction offended area suffragists, who chartered a boat and got as close as they could to the island. The group’s leaders made speeches applauding the embodiment of Liberty as a woman and advocating women’s right to vote. A scheduled fireworks display was postponed until November 1 because of poor weather.
Shortly after the dedication, The Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue’s torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation “in reality”:
“Liberty enlightening the world,” indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the “liberty” of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the “liberty” of this country “enlightening the world,” or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.
First, a Story:
Did you hear about the fellow who works as an unmoving but living Statue of Liberty in Times Square, New York City?
Seems he is in a permanent position.
Second, a Song:
Ghostbusters II is a 1989 American supernatural comedy film directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts. It is the sequel to the 1984 film Ghostbusters and the second film in the Ghostbusters franchise. Set five years after the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters have been sued and put out of business after the destruction caused during their battle with the deity Gozer. When a new paranormal threat emerges, the Ghostbusters reunite to combat it and save the world.
After the phenomenal success of Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures wanted a sequel but struggled to overcome objections from the cast and crew. As with the first film, Aykroyd and Ramis collaborated on the script, which went through many variations. The pair wanted to convey a message about the consequences of negative human emotions in large cities. They settled on the idea of negative feelings creating a mass of supernatural slime beneath New York City that empowers malevolent spirits. With a budget of $30–40 million, filming took place between November 1988 and March 1989 in New York City and Los Angeles. Production was rushed compared to the original film’s 13-month cycle; large sections of the film were scrapped after poorly received test screenings. New scenes were written and filmed during re-shoots between March and April 1989, only two months before its release.
Ghostbusters II was released on June 16, 1989, to generally negative reviews. Critics responded unfavorably to what they perceived as largely a copy of the original and a softening of its cynical, dark humor to be more family-friendly, although the performances of Peter MacNicol and Moranis were repeatedly singled out for praise. As the sequel to the then-highest-grossing comedy film of all time, Ghostbusters II was expected to dominate the box office. Instead, the film earned $215.4 million during its theatrical run compared with the original’s $282.2 million, making it the eighth-highest-grossing film of the year. Columbia Pictures deemed it a financial and critical failure, the effect of which dissuaded Murray from participating in a third Ghostbusters film. Its soundtrack single, “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown, was a success, spending 20 weeks on the United States music charts.
The film failed to replicate the cultural impact and following of Ghostbusters. Although some retrospective critics praised it, Ghostbusters II is generally seen as a poor follow-up to Ghostbusters and responsible for stalling the franchise for decades. The film spawned a series of merchandise including video games, board games, comic books, music, toys, and haunted houses. Despite the relative failure of Ghostbusters II, a second sequel was pursued through to the early 2010s. A financially unsuccessful 2016 series reboot led to renewed efforts on a sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which is scheduled for release in 2021.
The animated Statue of Liberty was conceived by Aykroyd, who liked the idea of taking a static image and making it move about, comparing it with seeing the Eiffel Tower moving or Victoria Falls flowing in reverse. The statue’s role was originally written as a weapon for Vigo but this idea did not progress the narrative. The effect was a combination of a costume worn by Fye, miniatures, and larger-than-life-size elements like the statue’s crown— which in reality was too small to let the Ghostbusters peer out. The crown was mounted on a gimbal, allowing it to be pivoted as though its wearer was walking. Reitman ordered the crown be tilted down further than the actors were expecting to elicit from them a genuine reaction of surprise. The upper body was modeled and filmed at night in a makeshift pool to show it emerging from the ocean (per Wikipedia).
Here is the Statue of Liberty scene from Ghostbusters II, set to the song “Higher & Higher!”. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky